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What are the Best Tips for Upholstery Repair?

Upholstery repair can breathe new life into your cherished furniture. Start by assessing the damage carefully and choosing the right tools and materials. For fabric tears, use a patch that closely matches the original material. For leather, a repair kit with colorant can work wonders. Remember, patience is key for seamless results. Wondering which materials are best for your project? Continue reading to find out.
T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

There are several different tips than can help produce a professional-looking upholstery repair job. Leather furniture can be repaired with a do-it-yourself kit containing all the necessary materials. Small tears in cloth upholstery can sometimes be repaired with a sewing needle and an appropriate colored thread. Use a piece of excess material taken from the underside of the furniture or beneath the cushion to patch cloth upholstery. Dining room chair cushions can usually be easily recovered by removing them from the chair frame.

Leather upholstery is usually quite expensive and every effort should be made to repair damaged areas before discarding the furniture. The best approach to leather upholstery repair is to purchase a do-it-yourself kit. This kit typically contains a sub-patch, adhesive filler, and liquid coloring compound. For best results, trim the torn area with scissors and place the sub-patch beneath the tear. Seal the area with filler, mix the coloring compound to match the leather, and apply it to the leather.

An upholstered footstool.
An upholstered footstool.

Cloth upholstery repair should always be made as quickly as possible to avoid further damage. Small tears can usually be mended by sewing the area with a needle and matching thread. Cushion covers should be partially removed to create slack in the material before sewing. Slack may also be created by squeezing the fabric together with spring-loaded clamps. Use short, close stitches and carefully trim any excess thread with scissors.

Heavy-duty staples are used to install upholstery material to a base.
Heavy-duty staples are used to install upholstery material to a base.

Larger tears can sometimes be mended with a do-it-yourself cloth upholstery repair kit. This kit usually comes with several pieces of neutral-colored fabric and a clear adhesive. If a suitable fabric cannot be found in the kit, a small piece of excess material can often be taken from beneath the furniture or cushion. For best results, trim the material into an oval shape to make it less noticeable. Apply the patch material to the tear using the clear adhesive.

A do-it-yourself approach might be best for leather furniture repair.
A do-it-yourself approach might be best for leather furniture repair.

Dining room chair upholstery can often be repaired by removing the cushion from the frame and recovering it. These cushions are typically attached to the chair frame with wood screws and can be easily removed. The fabric upholstery covering the cushions is usually fastened to the base with staples or furniture tacks. Remove the fasteners and discard the fabric while retaining the cushioning material. Measure and cut the new upholstery material, install it to the cushion base with heavy duty staples, and reattach the unit to the frame.

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Discussion Comments


@jsmay - Even with a large leather couch, you could use the idea that runner101 mentioned: throw pillows. If you want to combine the two ideas, use existing throw pillows but with new covers. It's actually quite easy to make covers for throw pillows too and in that way they could be customized as much as you want.


@Speechie - Stapling new fabrics or covers is a great way to spruce up the look of a couch or other furniture without having to buy entirely new pieces! However, you can't apply the same method to leather furniture, right? Is there an easy way to get around this?


@tolleranza - You said it! Animals and couches never seem to go well together. Have you tried placing a protective cover over the leather couch to prevent the puppy from scratching or chewing at it? I know it's a shame to have to do that, but it could save the material at least until the pup has grown out of chewing everything.


I hate to say it but this article is right. It is better to fix a leather sofa rather than buy a new one. Not too mention a better ecological choice.

I hate to say the article is right because my husband has this awful leather sofa he refuses to get rid of, and I thought when our puppy gave it a little rip it would be the impetus I needed to help get the couch out of my house!

But I know better. I should fix the rip. Instead maybe I should just talk my husband into getting a bigger house, and I could just put the couch in a room I never go in to!


@speechie - I like your idea for not only fixing chair upholstery but also updating your decor by changing an accent chair or dining room chair's fabric.

But in my opinion, trendy colors should be even less labor intensive - just go and buy new throw pillows! No labor required and they can really make the room pop.


With chairs just as the article mentioned, it is easy (in comparison to other repair jobs) to fix the upholstery. For this reason, I think chairs are also a great place to look to, when you are looking for inexpensive ways to do a little redecorating.

You can go into fabric stores, buy fabric, go home, undo a few screws, overlap the new fabric, take a staple gun to the fabric, and viola! New custom designed or custom made chairs!

I find this is an easy way to add trendy colors that you want to add to your decor but do not want to add a whole lot of the color.

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    • An upholstered footstool.
      By: valya82
      An upholstered footstool.
    • Heavy-duty staples are used to install upholstery material to a base.
      By: Lilyana Vynogradova
      Heavy-duty staples are used to install upholstery material to a base.
    • A do-it-yourself approach might be best for leather furniture repair.
      By: kon
      A do-it-yourself approach might be best for leather furniture repair.
    • Patches may be used to repair upholstery.
      By: theilr
      Patches may be used to repair upholstery.